Saturday, April 30, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I raced through this book so quickly and really liked it a lot.  I remember If I Stay - it was amazing!  I loved every moment of the first book.  Where She Went doesn't disappoint either.  I don't want to say too much about the book, since people might not have read the first one, but I can tell you that this book is from the point of view of Adam, Mia's boyfriend.  He fills the reader in on the aftermath of Mia's accident and what has been happening since then.  I raced through this book so quickly.  I really loved Adam's character and voice.  I enjoyed learning about the other characters from the first book and what had happened to them, too.  I also like reading about what Adam was feeling and going through, because while Mia and her immediate family were obviously most affected by the accident, tragedies impact everyone involved.  Adam was a part of what happened, too.  This book was great.  If you haven't read the first one, you should pick both up today.  Cover comment:  I hate that there is a girl on the front of this book.  It won't appeal to boys at all because of least not at first glance.  I get that it matches the new paperback, but I think guys would like this book and even the first one...wish more books came with covers that appealed to both genders.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shine by Lauren Myracle

I had heard some good reviews of this book on Goodreads and Twitter, so when I got it, I was really excited to read.  I enjoyed this book a lot.  It's one of those like Speak or Wintergirls that you sort of don't want to read but you really want to.  It's not about an easy subject, but you are better after having read the story.

When I teach tragedy to my students, we discuss catharsis and how by experiencing the horrible things along with the character, we learn so much.  We go through the events without having really gone through them, and hopefully we are saved from those things in our own lives.  Maybe we are.  Maybe we aren't, but we definitely experience a lot during our journeys with those characters.

Cat, while written for a very specific place in the mountains of North Carolina, still reminds me a bit of Lia and Melinda.  Girls who were "normal" for lack of a better word, friends with everyone, but who withdrew for some reason and became loners.

In Cat's very small town (and I mean small, not just cute small, I mean poor, farming, out in the hills small) of Black Creek, NC, people get along just fine.  But a tragedy shakes the town when a young man, Patrick, is brutally attacked and tied to a gas pump, the nozzle taped to his throat and a hateful message scrawled on his chest.  It's a hate crime, and people are shaken.  Some feel that perhaps Patrick got what he deserved for being different while others, of course, really feel that no one deserves anything like that at all.  The cops are "working on it," but Cat knows this really means that they are going to "seem" like they are following leads, eventually just blame it on a truck load of out of town college boys, and let life resume.  But Cat knows that isn't the case.

She and Patrick used to be best friends.  They got eat other.  They had fun.  But when Cat got to high school, she dropped all her friends and just stayed in her own world with herself and her books.  She misses Patrick, and when this happens, even though she hasn't talked to him in forever, she has to help him.  She sets about trying to piece together what happened the night that Patrick got attacked.  She feels like she owes it to her friend to solve this crime.

Told from Cat's point of view, this book leads you along her journey of discovery as she figures out just what happened that night.  She finds out way more about her town and the people in it than she ever knew.  The cast of characters is great, and since you are with Cat, you sort of see everyone as a suspect at first.  It has a who dunnit feel to it.  But it's an important story.  I think it deals with the hate crime well.  It's honest about people's feelings.  While Cat is understanding and supportive of Patrick's homosexuality, most people in this town are not, and that is a reality that many gay teens face out in the world.

What matters is what kind of person you are and that you view the world in a positive way.  Patrick did, and Cat does in a way.  I think this book was great.  I am a southern girl myself, so I do sometimes cringe a bit when I read southern characters.  Sometimes I feel/felt like maybe there were too many colloquialisms crammed into one sentence or paragraph, but then at the same time, it didn't really bother me that much or take away from the flow of the story, so I was ok with it.  I think kids will like this book because it is a mystery of sorts, as Cat is solving this crime, but I think the greater messages and meanings about treating people well and the dangers of drugs and hate will resonate with readers as well.  I am really glad I got my hands on this one.  Not an easy read, but a good one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Curse of the Wendigo

I absolutely loved The Monstrumologist and the next book in the series The Curse of the Wendigo  was even better than the first.  I liked it better because not only was it full of horror and gore and terror, but I learned even more about Dr. Warthrop.  I got to know these two characters (Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop) even more.  The more I learn about them, the more I like them, even though they are in a really crazy business.

In this second volume, Will and the monstrumologist go out into the wild to search for one of the doctors friends from childhood, John.  What they find in the wilderness will make you shake in disgust and terror.  The "wendigo" is something that beats your standard vampire or werewolf out of the water, for it starves as it eats and then it eats more because it starves.  I thought the descriptions of the anthropophagi in the first book were horrifying, but this book doesn't fail to gross the reader out on almost every page.

Reading these books is like being in a haunted house, you don't want to know what's waiting in the next room, but you just can't help it.  You have to know.  When I read the book, I winced in disgust and closed my eyes.  The people around me did not want me to share any more descriptions with them because they were so disturbing.  But it's a good disturbing - classic horror and suspense.

I love the voice and the writing style in these books.  It's historically accurate but still easy to read.  I felt that the characters were developed more and I cannot wait for Rick Yancey to get his hands on some more of Will Henry's notebooks.

Across the Universe

Quick post on this one.  I finished it a few weeks ago, but haven't had a chance to post until now.

I had read reviews of this book online and just had to have this one.  It lived up to all the hype.  I'm usually not a huge fan of very sci-fy-y books, but this one was awesome.  I was hooked from the first chapter when I read about just how people got cryogenically (sp?) frozen.  It was crazy and creepy.

So the basic story is that Amy is a young girl whose parents are going to be frozen and put on a ship to travel through the universe for 300 years.  Along with many other people from all careers and jobs from military to science, they are going to find a new planet and see what natural resources this new land can have.  It's a risk, but really exciting. Amy decides to be frozen too, so she can stay with her parents.  It's a hard decision, but she wants to be with her family.

Elder is our other narrator and main character.  He is sort of a leader-in-training for the ship, Godspeed.  He takes lessons from Eldest, the current leader of the ship.

These two characters meet when Amy is unfrozen 50 years early.  Someone unplugged her and she is lucky she was found.  She could have died.  She can't be refrozen, and her parents can be unfrozen because they are so key to the now she'll be older than her parents when the ship finally lands.

She turns to Elder and tries to figure out what to do.  However, once she starts to see how people are living on the ship, she is concerned.  The ways of life on this ship are nothing at all like the life she led.

Think about how much our country changed in two hundred and fifty years....well, that's how long the ship has been on its mission, so needless to say, things have changed....but you will be shocked to see how these people live.  Eldest is quite a leader and has everything under his control.  Elder finds out that Eldest hasn't exactly been very honest, either, about how things on the ship work.  If Elder is going to be leader one day, he needs more information, but Eldest won't give it to him.

This book really drew me in.  I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give anything away, but I will tell you that this story twists and turns and really shocks you.  At first I couldn't believe some of the things I read, but then I almost started to understand why Eldest acted the way he did.

Anyway, I think if you like a good adventure or sci-fi story, this is definitely for you.  But it's not crazy science-fiction, it's very now and cool.  I highly recommend this read to guys and girls.  It's got something for everyone.  I was extremely disappointed to find out that it's the first book in a trilogy.  I already can't wait for the next book A Million Suns to arrive in 2012.